Top Upcoming Writing Contests In US - 2024

Comprehensive Guide To US Writing Contests In 2024

writing contests 2024-2025

As an aspiring writer, what do you believe is the next step in your journey before you write your very first book? Is it honing your skills to write more eloquently? Maybe you need to study other authors’ work to understand the concept of voice. Or maybe you need to consider the genre or niche you want to target. What if we tell you there is a way to help target all your ebook writing goals, so you’re one step closer to writing your first masterpiece: Writing contests!

Yes, you read it right: these literary competitions are a great way to test your waters before you head out to your main mission of writing a novel. They offer several benefits to your writing, like experience, exposure, and the motivation to write. This way, you get one step closer to who you want to become: a successful author with several awards and accolades in their name. 

Looking for novel writing competitions for the first time can be a hassle. You need to survey many websites to get an idea of the different contests and the deadline for submitting your work. To make things easier, we offer a list of contests in the US you can register for, as well as how to find ones yourself. In addition, if you aim to win, we have some helpful pointers to improve your winning chances. So, if you’re ready to enter, here is what you need to know:

Writing Contests To Be Held In 2024-2025

Check out the best writing contests happening this year. Enhance your skills and showcase your talent. Stay up to date on opportunities to be recognized and rewarded.

Short Story Competitions 2024

Here are some notable short story competitions for 2024. These competitions offer the chance to compete with fellow writers and gain recognition. It’s a great opportunity to advance your writing career.

1. Great American Fiction Contest

Prize: First Prize – $1,000 cash prize and the short story to be published in the Saturday Evening Post, 5 Runner Up – $200 cash prize each with the story featured online. 

Entry Fee: $10 

Deadline: July 1, 2024

Guidelines & Description: The Great American Fiction Contest, hosted by The Saturday Evening Post, is your chance to showcase a story that captures the essence of the American experience. They’re looking for engaging fiction, between 1,500 and 5,000 words, that explores themes relevant to the past, present, or future of the United States.

Here’s a quick rundown of the guidelines:

  • A short story should be around 1,500 to 5,000 words. 
  • The story can follow any fiction genre.
  • The content should be unpublished and shouldn’t contain graphic, explicit, or sexual scenes.  

Submit the work electronically via email in PDF format. If you wish to send it in print format, kindly mail it to the address listed on the website.

2. SiWC Writing Contest

Prize: Winner – $1,000 cash prize, along with the chance for the story to be published.

Honorable Mentions – $150 cash prize, along with the chance for the story to be published.

Entry Fee: $15

Deadline: 15th September 2024

Guidelines & Description: The Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SiWC) Writing Contest is a prestigious annual event offering writers a chance to win recognition and publication. Here’s a quick rundown to see if it’s a good fit for you:

  • The submitted story should be original and unpublished.
  • The short story should fall between 2,500-4,000 words.
  • You have free will for the genre you want to write.
  • The manuscript must follow a precise format: double-spaced, 12-pt Times New Roman or Arial font. 1” margins, indented paragraphs, along with footers with page numbers. In addition, the author’s name should not appear throughout the manuscript. 
  • The document should be electronically submitted via email in pdf or docx format

3. WOW / Women On Writing Quarterly Flash Fiction Competition

Prize: First Place – $400 cash prize

Second Place – $300 cash prize

Third Place – $200 cash prize

The contest will also award position holders and seven runner-ups with their entry published in Women on Writing (WOW) magazine, a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate, and an interview on the WOW blog.

Entry Fee: $10, or $20 for entry with critique from judges.

Deadline: May 31, 2024 

Summer Contest – 31st August 2024. 

Guidelines & Description: WOW holds quarterly fiction writing competitions to help writers from all backgrounds showcase their brilliance with bite-sized pieces. The contest is women-exclusive. Women are free to write their entries on anything or any genre. Here are some guidelines you need to remember:

  • WOW, contest entry submission closes once 3000 entries have been received. Time is of the essence, so you submit your entry before it’s too late. 
  • Each entry should be around 250 and 750 words.
  • The word should be typed in the email or attached as a Word document. 

4. The Lascaux Prize

Prize: First Place – $1,000 cash prize.

Entry Fee: $15

Deadline: 30th June – Flash Fiction

30th September 2024 – Creative Nonfiction

31st December 2024 – Short Fiction  

Guidelines & Description: If you have a knack for writing short stories, regardless of the genre, fiction or nonfiction, then the Lascaux Review writing contest is the perfect opportunity to showcase your exceptional skills. Here are the submission guidelines you should make sure of to avoid rejection:

  • Flash and creative nonfiction entry should be under 1,000 words, while short fiction entries can be extensive but not exceed 10,000 words.
  • Entries should be original and unpublished.
  • Writers can cover any genre and topic of their choosing. 
  • Online submissions are only acceptable.

5. ServiceScape Short Story Award 2024

Prize: Winner – $1,000 cash prize

Entry Fee: Free

Deadline: 30th November 2024

Guidelines & Description: The ServiceScape Short Story Award is another great short story writing competition in 2024 to test your skills. The contest offers you a place to gain more exposure for your creative work. Here are the submission guidelines to follow:

  • Each applicant needs to be 18 years or older to participate in the writing contest.
  • Each applicant only has a single entry. 
  • The manuscript shouldn’t be over the limit of 5,000 words.
  • The writer has full freedom on what genre they want to cover, fiction or nonfiction. 
  • The manuscript should be unpublished. 
  • Work needs to be sent in pdf pdf or docx format. 

Novel Writing Competitions Happening This Year

If you are an aspiring novelist looking to show off your skills, entering a writing competition could be the next big step. These contests provide not only recognition, but also valuable feedback and, on occasion, publication opportunities. Here are some of the most exciting novel writing competitions taking place this year.

1. University of New Orleans Press Lab Prize

Price: $10,000 advance for royalties, along with a contract to write and publish with the University of New Orleans Press

Entry Fee: $28

Deadline: 31st August 2024

Guidelines & Description: The University of New Orleans Press is hosting a writing competition searching for the next great unpublished novel or short story collection. This contest is a fantastic opportunity for both new and established writers to gain recognition and get their work published by a respected university press. Here are some additional things to remember before submitting your entry:

  • Fiction only (novels and short story collections) are accepted.
  • No restrictions on subject matter or regional focus.
  • No word limit.
  • Open to international submissions from both new and established authors.
  • Submit your entire manuscript electronically via Submittable.

2. The Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction

Prize: $5,000 advance for royalties, publication by Dzanc Books.

Entry Fee: $25 submission fee. 

Deadline: 30th September 2024

Guidelines & Description: Dzanc Books, a renowned non-profit literary press, is hosting its annual Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction. This contest is a golden opportunity for writers of all stripes, from fresh voices to established authors, to showcase their daring and innovative novels.

Here are the submission rules:

  • The minimum word count for the entry is around 40,000 words. 
  • The writing contest only allows novel manuscripts that are unpublished and original. 
  • The written novel should be sent with a synopsis, bio, and contact info.
  • .pdf, .doc or .docx are the only acceptable manuscript formats. 
  • The writer can send in multiple submissions, but each submission will require the writer to pay the submission fee again. 

3. The Claymore Award

Prize: Discounted admission to the Killer Nashville International Writer Conference with proper introductions to editors/agents. 

Entry Fee: $45

Deadline: TBD 2025.

Guidelines & Description:  Calling all thriller, mystery, crime, and suspense writers! This novel writing competition is your chance to grab the spotlight. Based on your unpublished manuscript, judges will search for gripping stories that leave them wanting more. Whether your tale is a heart-pounding action thriller or a chilling supernatural mystery, this contest welcomes a wide range of subgenres as long as it contains the element of suspense. Here is a quick rundown of the manuscript:

  • The contest requires that you send the first fifty pages of your unpublished manuscript.
  • The writing contest only allows from the thriller, suspense, or crime genre. However, writers can diversify into subgenres.
  • The writer can’t send self-published work; unpublished entries are only allowed.

4. St. Martin’s Minotaur/Mystery Writers Of America First Crime

Prize: Winner – $10,000 advance for future royalties

Entry Fee: Free

Deadline: TBD 2025.

Guidelines & Description: St. Martin’s Minotaur is the competition you should enter for those who have a knack for writing crime novels. If you have an original, unpublished crime fiction story in the works, enter it and win a chance to win big. Here are the submission guidelines you need to follow: 

  • The submitted manuscript should have a minimum word count of 60,000 words or 220 types of pages, double-spaced.
  • The submitted manuscript should be in or.pdf format and saved as “Manuscript Title_Entrant Name.”
  •  As a contestant, you should be over 18 years old.

5. The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing

Prize: Winner – $10,000 advance for future royalties

Entry Fee: Free

Deadline: 31st May 2024

Guidelines & Description: The writing contest was held in 2015 to honor outstanding immigrants and their literary work. Since then, the novel writing competition has been conducted yearly, alternating between fiction and nonfiction genres each year. The 2024 writing contest is held for fiction novel writing. Here are some guidelines you need to remember:

  • The submitted manuscript should be no longer than 25,00 words and contain a detailed proposal, synopsis, and table of contents. 
  • The submitted manuscript should be electronically submitted in pdf or docx format.  
  • The candidate should have no prior work under publication to enter the competition.

How To Find The Right Writing Contest?

By now, you have several writing contests where you can register and showcase your work, but before entering them, you must remember that no two contests are the same. Some may require you to follow a specific genre, while others may have certain regulations limiting candidate entries. If you’re looking for competitions on your own, here are some pointers you need to remember:

  1. We do not doubt that many of you would survey the internet to look for writing competitions. Please remember that the results can be a wide range of competitions, from local to international, amateur to veteran, and even gender-specific, free-for-all. Just mindlessly entering any contest won’t offer the best benefits. Try to narrow your search.
  2. Some contests are more genre-specific, meaning they only allow candidates to submit entries that fit the genre. Read each contest’s regulations before committing to entering a contest. Otherwise, your effort might get wasted if the entry is rejected. 
  3. While searching for literary contests, mention the current year for more precise results. 

How To Win Writing Contests?

What’s the main aim of the writing contest? For those who have a passion for competing, the obvious answer would be winning, but for most, you should feel happy that you participated. If you aim to win, then here are some tips you’ll find quite helpful:

  1. If your primary objective for entering the contest is winning, then make sure you’re prepared for the contest. That means having ample time before the deadline. 
  2. If the contest follows a theme, then be sure your writing style adheres to it. The more relevant your story resonates with the theme, the better chance it has of being short-listed for winning. 
  3. Focus on writing a bite-sized story if you aim to win a short story writing contest. That means coming up with an idea that fits the word count. If the contest has a 1,500-word limit entry, you can’t expect to dictate an entire epic fantasy tale in this specified length. Consider your topic and genre carefully before writing. 
  4. Have a clear structure for the story in mind before writing. Don’t rush straight into writing. Think about all aspects of the story carefully: the plot, storyline, characters, etc. Having a clear sense of the beginning, middle, and end will ensure the quality is constant throughout the story.
  5. Make sure the characters you create for the story have definite goals. And every action, dialogue, and progress they make showcases their urge to accomplish the goal.

Final Note

n conclusion, writing contests are a fantastic way for aspiring authors to gain experience, exposure, and feedback on their work. With a little research and some strategic planning, you can find contests that are a good fit for your writing style and goals. So, what are you waiting for? Start preparing your entries, and get ready to take your writing to the next level!